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Campus Now

Midsummer Issue (Jul. 2013)


State of education is changing.

“Education utilizing ICT”

Waseda University incorporated ICT into the education ahead of other universities and had been taking actions to enhance the quality of classes. The Core Strategy 4 of “Waseda Vision 150”, “A Switch to an Interactive, Problem Finding/Solving Style of Education” is one of them.
We examine the current status of ICT at Waseda and the changes that ICT will bring to education.

※ICT: Information Communication Technology

Board member interview

Potential of education utilizing ICT

We interviewed Executive Director Fukazawa, in charge of IT promotion, about the current status of informatization at Waseda University and possibilities of education utilizing ICT from a broad perspective.

Promotion of informatization that corresponds to the diversifying needs and changes of education/research style

Executive Director in charge of IT promotion
Yoshiaki Fukazawa
Professor of Faculty of Science and Engineering

Graduated from the School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University in 1976. Completed Master's Program in 1978 and Doctoral Program in 1983 from the Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University. Doctor of Engineering. In 1992, became Professor at the School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University. Held various senior positions such as the Director of Media Network Center, Dean of Academic Affairs, and Director of Research Promotion at Waseda University. Since 2010, has been general manager of research promotion and Executive Director in charge of IT promotion.

――Please tell us the current status of informatization at Waseda University and the current situation of the society.

The University’s system service used to be provided mainly to faculty, staff and students. However, as they diversify according to the changes of the society, different services are required to meet their diverse needs. For example, students are in different positions such as Teaching Assistant/Student Assistant or Research Assistant. The employment status of faculty and staff becomes also diversified. Furthermore, people who are involved with Waseda vary widely such as parents of the students, alumni who are connected with the University in various positions, people in corporations, other universities and research institutions that the University work with, prospective examinees, junior high school or high school students, students of open lectures, Waseda fans to support Waseda University through sports, etc., and community people around the University. The services that Waseda can provide vary in accordance with their varieties of needs.

At Waseda University, informatization of education support, research support, student support, alumni support, corporation management, and basic systems and administrative systems for supporting them has been promoted mainly by Media Network Center (MNC) and Distance Learning Center (DLC).

There are three characteristics of informatization at Waseda University. First, we can always challenge something new by integrating all systems across the University in one place and work on them. For example, the standardized class support system, “Course N@vi” (Refer to P.12) has an advantage of scale effect, data accumulation and clear responsibilities, even though the system still requires improvement. Second, we organize the “Digital Campus Consortium (DCC)”, a joint effort of universities and corporations, to offer a place to discuss future education and facilitate various actions. And third, we are accumulating know-how of the past informatization efforts in collaboration with relevant companies.

――The progress speed of informatization world is rapid, and it seems to be difficult to predict what will happen even in a few years. Under this circumstance, how does Waseda University carry out the informatization strategies?

Ten years ago, no one could imagine that the Internet would prevail as it has. Five years ago, no one could predict that smart phones would become so popular. However, regardless of the society and technology, what we need to do as an educational institution is already determined. In order to carry out our mission, it is necessary to promote informatization as its environmental improvement, and in order to carry out the informatization throughout Waseda University, we need to have the appropriate strategies. In 1997, Waseda University developed a unique informatization promotion program that combined 3-year short-term plan and 9-year long-term plan, and it has been conducting informatization along the program. These strategies are also connected with “Grand Design for 21st Century Education and Research”, which was developed in 2000 as the University’s plan, “Waseda Next 125” of 2008, and “Waseda Vision 150” which was developed in 2012 as a vision toward 2032 when the University will mark its 150th anniversary.

If I imagine Waseda in 20 years from the informatization perspective, the entire campus will become a study area, all students will carry mobile devices such as mobile PCs or smart phones, and almost all classes will be offered in the mixed form of on-demand classes and interactive/student participatory classes. Furthermore, there will be multiple activities of global-level research communities and research papers, information on research results, application for grant and reporting will be digitized. Informatization has a critical meaning to realize this image.

ICT is just a tool.
Aiming at effective education combining ICT and face-to-face classes

――How do you expect university’s education to evolve by utilizing ICT?

Image of a new class style

It expands by the click.

Utilization result of the class support system at Waseda University
(2007 to 2012)

It expands by the click.

On-line education is currently drawing attention in the USA, but, already in 2006, Waseda University became a member of OpenCourseWare (OCW). Based on the collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), we established the Waseda University OpenCourseWare (WOCW http://www.waseda.jp/ocw/) and make a part of our lecture materials public, as a trial to construct global-level educational network structure. In the School of Human Sciences, we offer on-line courses (called e-school) where students can graduate by completing only on-demand courses, and many students have already graduated from the program.

However, ICT is just a tool. Just using ICT does not enhance the quality of classes. Certain things can only be obtained through face-to-face classes in the classroom. This means that for future university education, there is a need to effectively combine the use of ICT as an indirect tool and interactive, problem finding/solving style classes. If students prepare for classes through on-demand classes and learn/discuss in-depth in the classrooms, the value of face-to-face classes will be produced, and the quality of classes will be enhanced.

In order to achieve it, it is the IT Department’s mission to create the ICT environment in both hard and soft aspects to enhance motivation of faculty towards classes and to help them realize the classes in the ways they like. For example, we have a plan of creating an active “next generation education space” on the second floor of the new building No.3, which is currently under construction. In the space, not only lecture style classes can be offered, but also the floor can be freely arranged to suit the purpose such as group work or presentation. Furthermore, at the group work, a screen can be set on the connected desks, on which students can display the information materials from their own mobile devices. We hope that by increasing the number of classes that use such facility, students will actively participate in the classes and will be equipped with presentation and communication skills that the society requires through various experiences.

Create new education through informatization that is “3 years ahead” of other universities

――Please tell us your opinions about the future possibilities of informatization.

Image of ICT utilization by students, education, staff, and alumni

It expands by the click.

I want Waseda University to be always “3 years ahead” of other universities. In the current world where technology innovation is advancing very rapidly, it is hard to be 10 years ahead. However, if we can be 3 years ahead, we will be leading the competition. Once we stop, they will quickly catch up with us. Therefore, we must keep on moving forward. It will create new education at Waseda University and lead to a good support for diverse and excellent classes. The e-school which was established in 2003 at the School of Human Sciences initially started as one of new challenges.

Waseda University is the pioneer of incorporating new ICT technologies in the school system. For example, we offer support to students and faculty to create movie contents. The movie can be used not only by faculty to present during on-demand classes. With our support, students can also easily make movies so that they can submit presentation movies instead of submitting their assignments in reports and resume. To make movie presentations, students need to think of structure, presentation techniques, and speech. It is expected that this experience will enhance their presentation capacity, which will be required in the future society.

While incorporating various tools and functions, we are also faced with a tough discussion of to what extent we use ICT in the field of education. In order to incorporate ICT into the core “education”, it is an indispensable requirement for us to have more solid information infrastructure in which all students are accessible to mobile devices like smart phones and can use them without problem. At this moment, because we still do not have such infrastructure, we are holding back innovation of informatization at a certain level. In the future, we would like to promote informatization within the University while accurately assessing the progress of informatization in the society.

We want them to greedily seek effective utilization of ICT.

――Please give messages to the readers.

Executive Director Fukazawa, who enthusiastically tells us about the full on-demand class, “Research Ethics”

Creating a more flexible and user-friendly environment requires suitable costs. At Waseda University, we effectively use the valuable budget by consolidating and promoting informatization works at MNC. We also established 24-hour help desk to collect voices from students, faculty and staff. Thus, we believe that our operational environment is more flexible than those of other universities. Whether the environment can be effectively utilized or not depends on the motivation of students, faculty and staff. I hope that teachers offer high quality classes by effectively using ICT. And I hope that students would realize that they can effectively incorporate knowledge, methods and ways of thinking, which will lead to their own growth, by actively approaching to ICT. There is no limit in university education. I hope students will not be satisfied simply with what faculties teach but be greedier in learning and effectively using the environment. I believe that if the number of people who effectively use ICT increases, new needs will increase, and we can offer better environment to respond to the needs.